Did you know that approximately 32% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly? That figure jumped from 26% last year. This number is expected to grow in the coming years, with more people listening than ever before. One reason for this growth is that there are more available podcasts on a wide range of topics. There are currently over 850,0000 active podcasts.
With people spending more time working from home, they are turning to podcasts to get them through the workday and learn valuable information from experts. Many people get their podcasts from a podcast network. In this guide, we will tell you what is a podcast network and how using one can help you increase your business and provide real marketing results. We will give you all the information you need to decide if a podcast network might be the best choice for you.
What Is a Podcast?
In simple terms, a podcast is a digital audio file that is available online for listening or downloading. A podcast might have a series of episodes released each week or month. If you are subscribed to a podcast, you will likely receive the new podcast when it becomes available. You can listen to podcasts on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Studies show that 90% of podcast listeners tune in from their own home.
You can find a podcast on almost any topic from politics to science to fashion. Podcasts can be any length, with some only lasting a few minutes and others 3+ hours. They can be any frequency from daily updates to a monthly listening schedule. They can also host any number of people. Many podcasts feature one person with an occasional guest, while other podcasts might be an entire panel of speakers.
What Is a Podcast Network?
A podcast network is a group of podcasts, normally grouped by genre or theme, that intends to help monetize, market, and scale podcasts. These collections of podcasts are produced and made available through a single distribution source for advertisers and listeners. These podcast networks coordinate podcasts to help promote all of the podcasts within the network.
Podcast networks can provide an all-in-one solution for brands and podcasters who want to simplify the podcasting process by having one contact person. They can still work with multiple podcasts, however.
How Does a Podcast Network Operate?
After joining a podcast network, your podcast will become available to a greater range of listeners and advertisers. An advertiser can view your podcast within the network and decide if they are interested in placing an ad on your podcast.
Every podcast network has an advertising model they use to handle podcast ads. Most podcast networks use the cost per thousand impressions (CPM) model. This model pays the podcaster a flat rate per thousand impressions. Many brands will buy more than one ad per episode. Each ad will run for a certain duration during the podcast. A common advertising model might look like this:
- $15 – 10-second ad
- $18 – 30-second ad
- $25 – 60-second ad
This advertising model is the high-end of industry standards. Let’s break this down some more. If you have 5,000 downloads for a podcast episode and an advertiser buys three ads, then you would make about $290 per episode. Most podcast networks will take around 30% of ad revenue. If you do the math in our previous example, you would make about $203 for that episode.
This model is the most beneficial for podcasters who have a huge number of downloads per episode. The average podcast gets about 141 downloads per episode. The more downloads you have, the better this model will work out for you.
Benefits of Joining a Podcast Network
When you join a podcast network, you will have access to sponsorships that you might not have otherwise been able to get on your own. The network will handle securing sponsorships for you so that you can focus on producing your show and increasing the quality of your content. While you may have to split the revenue with the podcast network, at least you have greater access to sponsors.
Most podcast networks require you to cross-promote with other shows on the network. Promoting other shows will cost you very little, and you will reap the benefits of other shows cross-promoting your podcast. If a listener tunes into a certain podcast every week and that podcaster promotes your show, then they are likely to check it out. They trust their weekly podcaster to make solid suggestions for content the listener might enjoy.
As soon as you join a podcast network, you will gain greater exposure. Your audience will increase significantly once you are part of a network. If you have an entertainment podcast about film and you join a podcast network with the same theme, then your podcast will be put in front of millions of weekly listeners actively searching for your content. Targeted exposure can help place your podcast in the ears of the right listeners.
A podcast network effectively creates a professional network for podcasters and like-minded individuals to create content. A professional creative circle can be beneficial for everyone involved. It can create business partnerships, professional marketing relationships, and creative opportunities. If you are part of a podcasting network, you will have access to individuals who create similar content. This can create a chance to collaborate and maybe work on shows together to increase your audience.
The major advantage of podcast networks is access to advertising. Advertising agencies frequently use podcast networks to search for relevant shows to place their ads. Even though you have to give the network a percentage of your profits, you will gain a lot more exposure to high paying ad agencies. The primary way you will make money on your podcasts is by having well-placed ads. You won’t have to put as much time into ad-searching, which creates more time for honing your show.
Potential Drawbacks of Podcast Networks
Loss of Creative Control
One substantial fear for creators who are considering joining a podcast network is that they will lose creative control over their material. This might be true for some podcast networks, but it is not true for all of them. You might experience some loss of creative control over the ads that are placed on your show, however. You should read the contract thoroughly before signing with a podcast network. Make sure you will keep creative control over your show and all of its content.
Sharing Ad Revenue
One of the biggest drawbacks to joining a podcast network is you will have to share ad revenue with the network. The industry standard is a 70/30 split. You keep 70% of the ad profits, and the network will get 30%. In our previous earnings breakdown, we showed how the advertising model of podcast networks could greatly benefit a show with a lot of subscribers. Make sure you set the ad revenue percentage in stone before signing a contract.
What Are the Requirements for Joining a Network?
Most podcast networks want shows that have a big following behind them. A big podcast will garner more ad revenue for networks. If you have a smaller podcast, you can still likely join a podcast network, but you might have a harder time striking a great deal. Most podcast networks want at least 1,000 downloads per episode. You should be producing at least one episode every week. You will also have to share ad revenue, which is usually set at about 30%. You should also expect to let the network choose the ads. Another requirement will likely be cross-promotion with other shows on the network.
List of Podcast Networks
Gimlet Media – A large network that is a division of Spotify. They primarily distribute audio journalism and entertainment podcasts.
Earwolf – This podcasting network primarily promotes and distributes some of the biggest comedy podcasts. More recently, they have been branching out to include a wide range of podcasts on different topics.
Wondery – This company is an American podcast company that was started in 2016 and backed by 20th Century Fox. It focuses on distributing true crime, business, and entertainment podcasts.
RadioTopia – This network was started in 2014 by the NPR producer Roman Mars. It focuses on entertainment, political, and audio journalism podcasts.
In this guide, we have given you the ultimate guide to podcast networks. We hope this information has you considering how a podcast network might suit you and your business. Podcast networks are a great way to increase exposure, generate ad revenue, and develop connections between podcast creators. While one of the downsides is sharing your ad revenue, it still might be a great idea for you to join a network. You will gain more ad revenue by joining the network, so it might be worth your while. If you are interested in growing or launching your own podcast, contact us for advice.